Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, it’s not even 7:30 yet, but I’m already giving thanks.  I’m thankful for The Guys From The Internet and their new hit, F*ck A Kitten Up.

And, eternally, grateful for ‘aluminum falcons.’

I’m also grateful that I learned basketball from Michael Jordan, not Jesus.

Oh… and I’m now using Thanksgiving-inspired color schemes.  Apparently the light blue hurts female eyes.  Thanks for the feedback – this is more festive anyway.

New Package, Same Great Taste

Let me know if you hate the new colors… if you don’t feel passionately enough about it to tell me, I don’t care if you don’t like it.

In other news, tomorrow is TURKEY DAY. We’re headed to the Smiths for the day, bringing the sister with us. So far, the menu items and their contributors are as follows:

Turkey – the Smiths
Ham – the Smiths
Stuffing (of the sausage & herb variety) – other friends of the Smiths
Scalloped Potatoes with Bacon – other friends of the Smiths
Green Bean Casserole – the Hansens, a holiday classic
Corn Pudding – the Hansens, a new family favorite for sure
Seven Layer Bars – the Hansens, a family favorite AND holiday classic
Apple Cake – the Hansens, but only I will be eating it; I love this frikkin’ cake. Much more exciting (& fiber-filled) than pumpkin pie.
Wine – all of us, because we all plan to be completely snockered by 12pm (dinner’s not ’til like 5pm)
Wii – the Hansens; even though we can’t eat it, it’s still worth bringing to the celebration. Here’s hoping those wimpy little wrist-leashes don’t break & wreak havoc on the Smiths’ flatscreen.

My personal goal is to eat eight to ten thousand calories, and drink another one to two thousand. Seriously. By midnight Thursday, I should be roughly 4 pounds heavier. Then back to fighting weight by noon on Friday (thanks mostly to the apple cake & the magic of fiber).

SO FRIKKIN’ EXCITED. I’m heading home in an hour to bake the dessert stuff; we’ll cook the rest of our stuff at the Smiths whilst we down a few bottles of BevMo’s finest. If you come here looking for me, you probably won’t see a new post until Friday, but I’ll probably twitter every so often. Five points to the first person who recognizes the first drunk twitter!

In breaking news, things have deteriorated with Dad. Long story short, he’s insane & needs help, but he’s betrayed my trust to the point where I can barely bring myself to care. But it’s weighing me down a little. Without getting into it completely, let me just promise to have a good time this weekend & write more about this later. It’s tough stuff & I’m still not sure how to comfortably memorialize it here.

… sorry. No more heavy shit, unless it’s heavy shit covered in gravy or accompanied by large flagons of wine. (Yes, I’m bringing back ‘flagon’. It’s a cool book-nerd word.)


Sometimes You Wanna Go…

Where everybody knows your naa-a-ame (duh duh duh), and they’re always glad you caa-a-ame (duh duh DUH)…

Potentially sad, potentially heart-warming: I’m looking forward to my ten year high school reunion (which isn’t until next year, thank you). Started ferreting through some Facebook profiles of HS buddies, and saw some photos of people I haven’t talked to in (you guessed it) 9.5 years. Would just be nice to catch up with them, see how life is going… and hopefully make a few of them eat a healthy serving of humble pie.

See, I went to high school with a TON of people who carried themselves around like big fish in our relatively small pond, and made fun of all those who didn’t carry themselves at all but just were the fish they were. Then, these big fish people went out into bigger ponds, found out just how big they weren’t, and ended up right back in our small pond (or maybe the next small pond down the highway).

Be honest: you know a few of these people from your own pond, and are a little empathetic to my small yet satisfying possibility to feed them their own sack of crap. It may make me a slightly worse person, but for some of these people, it’s worth it. WORTH IT.

But on the whole, I loved my high school experience, and there were a lot of people that have gone on and done some awesome things & become awesome people (or always were awesome & just didn’t know it). I didn’t get to go to my five-year reunion (my sister’s 21st b-day in Las Vegas kept me away), and ten years is a long time for people to make progress towards being awesome. I’m looking forward to catching up with the awesome ones.

Here’s a small, somewhat confidential list of folks I can’t wait to catch up with due to Awesomeness Past, or for Awesomeness Perceived (meaning I think they’ve probably become awesome by now, based on things I’ve heard / read / seen on Skinemax).

Emily W. – Was Awesome, probably still is, but I can probably appreciate it to an even greater level now. She was my first ‘girlfriend’, at age 8. Still remember getting caught “making out” in a wee closet in her room. By “making out”, I mean talking about pay-per-view WWF wrestling and trying to kiss each other on the cheek in the dark. Man, did that make Rick’s face turn red…

Jarret B. – This guy was one of my Favorite People… then he found Ecstasy and lost his chess scholarship at UMBC. I haven’t seen him since, but I’m hoping he’ll be there.

Sauceman – Still one of my Favorite People, Sauce was everyone’s cool big brother, even though he was someone else’s pain-in-the-ass little brother. While he never shared my past ‘bad luck’ with the ladies and would never, EVER, be described as a nerd or a geek, somehow he makes a kindred-spirit-sized hole in my brain. Plus he’s the only football team QB I’ve ever gotten to know, which makes me think there’s hope for Nerds to learn from Athletes after all. Haven’t seen him at Breakers in a while, but that’s probably because I haven’t been there in the last two years.

Drew O. – If any circle of my HS friends had a token black guy, Drew was it. In fact, I think he was the token black guy for my entire senior class. Drew was cool back then, and I’ve got a feeling the cat has only gotten cooler. People don’t use the word ‘unflappable’ very often, but that’s my word for Drew. Unflappable. Plus, anybody who spends that much time in Pittsburgh PA has to be a genuinely strong human being. Drew is still probably cooler than I am, but that’s okay; gives me yet another aspirational goal.

Bradley T. – Bradley T. was the QB of life. Brad always knew how to a) make things happen; b) have a good time without upsetting Papa Den or Mama Kim; c) get to know people in a way that was friendly but not deep. He & I actually lived down the hall from each other for a year and a half at college, but never spent nearly enough time hangin’ out. (To sum up why, he & his roommates played EA Sports games on the PS2; my roommates & I played Super Smash Brothers on the N64. Never the twain did meet…) Brad’s still one of my favorite people, but I haven’t talked to him since graduating PSU. All I know is he’s married to a lovely girl named Jen, lives somewhere near the home town, and is undoubtedly still someone you can count on for a good time.

Chrisin H. - This girl was almost in two major car accidents while I was at the wheel, but we survived, graduated, saw each other ONCE while she was at Pitt & I was at PSU, but no sightings since. She moved to North Carolina, works at Duke now & is married (may even have borne wee ones). Definitely miss Christin; hope she’ll come up from Dixie.

Hoover – Ahh, Hoover. Hoov. Hoov was the Sauceman of the basketball team (even though Sauceman also played b-ball; Hoov had a good 4″ on Sauce). Hoov was a tall, gangly, scrawny mo’fo with some bad habits that, rumor has it, got worse. Taught me a lot about humility – not that he was humble, but rather, he proved that being a little boastful and/or over-confident was sometimes a REALLY bad idea. We had English & Physics teachers that gave him hard times, but he brought them on himself. Constantly had a little bit of a pompous air about him – probably had mostly to do with bad family situations. His stepdad Clifford (CLIFFORD!) was ~45-50 years older than us and was obsessed only with his cat and with keeping Hoov from upsetting Candy, Hoov’s mom. Real Dad wasn’t in the picture much, but when he was, made Hoov feel less than good about himself, and then tried to make up for it with golf clubs & Volkswagens. I felt for Hoover, and on more than one occasion got to see who he really was – and who he was wasn’t all that bad, so I counted him among my friends. He still made jokes at my expense more often than I would’ve liked, but at least he was funny. (Hoov, if you’re reading & don’t like the details, let me know & I’ll strike it from the record. Then, you owe me at least two beers.)

JEN FRIKKIN’ MARTIN – This girl… well, this girl was one of the original Skanks (I’m picturing the photo we took of her holding a bucket of Coronas & ready to get into Danny’s hot tub), until something went awry & she stopped returning our calls. There were comments made & disagreements had, but apologies & restitutions were also delivered, so I’m not sure why we still don’t get to count on ever seeing her when we’re back home. As far as I know, she’s still not married but living with a guy, and helping to take care of his two daughters. She’s certainly got more on her plate than the rest of us, but I no longer agree that this means we can’t relate to her. So I hope we all get to catch up with her there, if not before. (Jen, sweetie, if you’re reading, CALL US over the holidays… you are missed, dear.)

That’ll about do it for now. If I see even two of the above people at the reunion, it will be completely worth the price of the flight. Hell, if even writing this post reunites me with any one of them before the reunion, that’d be the bee’s knees.

Thus ends this extra-special glimpse into my past.

Jungle Gym Jitters…

… is probably the coolest name for a kid’s book I’ve ever seen. Alliterative, descriptive, and anxiety-inducing! C’mon, we’ve all had them… whether the jitters came from being the fat kid who couldn’t even run TO the jungle gym without wheezing (Bad Jitters), or whether they came from being the popular kid who always got to make out with all the girls who wanted him to be their first kiss (Good Jitters), we’ve all been somewhere on the jitter spectrum with regard to jungle gyms. That, my friends, is what we call a common point of reference. It’s what Jung would qualify as a collective memory. And it’s what red states call bullshit.

I saw that book in a book store on my way to get coffee this morning. I went to a new coffee place. It’s like six blocks farther to that place than my ‘normal’ coffee place. Why, you ask? Because I could. Because I just made it happen. Because my big-ass time-sucker of a project at work is FINALLY over. Because that project was the last major to-do item for me for 2008. Because, my friends, I have now been brought back from the brink of the corporate chasm, and I have learned a thing or two.

Thing One: Owning a big project like that, when you’re ready for it & you know what you’re doing, is frikkin’ AWESOME. The only thing that would’ve made this one better is having another set of hands/another left- and right-brain duo to share in some of the work. But all in all, I’ve discovered that the level of responsibility that comes from managing a shit-ton of work for a lot of very well-respected business people is something I can handle. This time, I was ready for it, and it worked out very well. I made it happen.

Thing Two: I need to get way better at owning stuff like that if I ever want to see my wife, family, friends, blog, or NA sponsor ever again. Not only did I not have time for you, dear reader, but I didn’t even have time for Jesus. And we all know how important it is to make time for Jesus. (This is different than “making time WITH Jesus”, which is the old-timey way of describing the act of copulation with the deity.)

In the last… oh, maybe 8 months, I’ve sacrificed a LOT of the personal stuff. Comedy/improv has just completely fallen off, podcasts have been canceled & rescheduled, races have come & gone without a decent performance, and even my ‘happy-go-lucky’-ness (is there a less pansy way to say that?) has seen better days. Just ask the wyf – I’ve gone through all seven Dwarf namesake emotions in as many months. (The month as “Doc” was weirdest – somehow I drew the proctology card on that one. What’d I learn in a month as a proctologist? Every guy has an ass-rope braided between his cheeks after years of wiping, so I’m not alone. Note: not all ass-ropes are created equally; some smell worse than others. If yours is uncomfortable or causes an erection lasting more than 4 hours, see your therapist/professional waxer/non-proctologist doctor.)

But when you ask your next question, ‘Was it worth it?’, I’d say yes. But I think that has to do with my need for validation. See, this project came out well, and a lot of congratulatory emails of recognition & appreciation have come my way. And it’s been a LONG time since I’ve gotten many of those that actually felt like I earned them. Or maybe this is just the first time I’ve been mature enough to know that it’s okay to accept compliments/appreciation without feeling they’re unwarranted. But in any case, it was this project that has made me feel the most validated in my ‘career’ since 2005. Worth it.

What’s next? Not sure. Definitely moving out of my current roles & responsibilities, either to a level higher in this group, or to a level higher in another group that’s got more of a consumer/customer focus to it. It’s great that there’s probably some permanent validation on its way, as I anticipate a promotion, AND I’ll get to move into something I’ll probably enjoy even more.

Here’s the “…but”: I haven’t TOUCHED my stand-up material in ~3 months, and haven’t had an improv session in even longer. Hell, the only creative juices I have flowing right now leak right into Twitter, where they just get soggy & start to smell like ass-rope after a few hours. S-U-C-K-S. But I could wallow in that sacrifice, or I could recognize that it paid off professionally, and then challenge myself to use my time better & employ both sides of my personality at the same time. Ideally, this would be done for me by having a job that required both sides – but as I don’t see that happening in the near-term, I’ll have to make it happen.

So here’s to making it happen. Oh, uh… so here’s where I might’ve tried to weave this back into the Jungle Gym Jitters thing, but give me a break – it was a moderately weak headline to begin with, and I just made two ass-rope jokes laced with a Viagra reference. That’s enough awesome for one entry.

PS – Thursday is Turkey Day! Come back later this week for a Turkey Day Tribute! It’ll be awesome! I promise! Meanwhile, I have to go learn how to trace my hand on a webpage so I can make an electronic hand-turkey. (Now you’re really excited! Me too! I’m four!)